Fame and hats

Jess found out some interesting facts about Cardinal Wolsey’s hat, which is in the library
at Christ Church College.  The provenance of the object can be traced right back to 1710 when it was discovered in the Great Wardrobe, which housed the clothing of the royal family.  For some reason it was thought to have belonged to Wolsey but the justification for this has been lost.  Wolsey died in 1530 and in those 180 years anything could have happened to his garments.  And this particular hat could have belonged to one of many Cardinals, I’m sure.  However, his name has been attributed to this object and it now carries a mysterious aura.  It is no longer a felt hat in the style that Cardinals wore which is called a Galero.  It has become a part of Wolsey and his story, proudly displayed by Christ Church for all to marvel at it.

This often happens with museum objects.  A name becomes attached to something and it takes on a whole other level of meaning, even if the association is debatable.  These are the objects that you are likely to remember and tell people about after your visit.  And so their
ability to captivate is perpetuated.  I would love to find more hats and shoes like this.  A case full of personal objects belonging to the great and the good would be wonderful.
Imagine their collective power!

About Aimée Payton

I have worked in the Department of Eastern Art at the Ashmolean for over 5 years and I am very excited about being given the opportunity to work with museums across the county on this project. As Collections Access Officer I will research headwear and footwear in museums and collections in the whole of Oxfordshire, curate an exhibition at The Oxfordshire Museum and work with Education teams and community groups to create an exhibition at the Museum of Oxford.
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